UPDATE: Planned Parenthood hires two new staff members to work in Chattanooga

UPDATE: Planned Parenthood Tennessee and North Mississippi will introduce two staff members hired to serve the Chattanooga area.

The organization will hold a press conference Wednesday afternoon to introduce the staff and discuss roles and community support.


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PREVIOUS STORY: The nation's largest abortion provider has hired two new staff members to the Chattanooga area.

Savannah Bearden, director of communications for Planned Parenthood of Tennessee and North Mississippi, said the group has not had a local presence in the area since 2005.

She added that for years, staff from Nashville and Knoxville drove into the city to work.

Bearden added as of March, they have partnered with 11,400 people in Hamilton County including volunteers, donors, and those who have participated in public training and educational sessions.

"The fact that we are able to have the capacity building. That is a direct result of the support we've received from Chattanoogans," Bearden said.

The two new positions will continue the group's mission which is to provide comprehensive education and advocacy around sexual and reproductive rights.

A health educator will partner with community organizations, schools, and churches.

The community organizer will serve as “a conduit for action for reproductive rights and health care access.”

There will not be clinical services available in Chattanooga as part of this expansion.

They have not been available in the area since the Chattanooga Women's Clinic closed in 1993 making the city one of the largest cities in the country without one.

In 2008, reinstating a clinic was discussed, but faced opposition from local churches, and rallies were held. The clinic never opened.

Candy Clepper, president of Greater Chattanooga Right to Life said the group would organize efforts against the return of Planned Parenthood, and called the possibility destructive and devastating.

She argued that the group's greatest source of profit and their business model is built around the abortion business and would "infiltrate communities." 

"How can the people of Chattanooga trust the largest abortion provider with their deadly agenda to have the best intentions for our children and our community at heart?” Clepper said.

Currently, the nearest abortion clinics are more than 100 miles from Chattanooga.